If you are like me, you are hopefully optimistic, but still skeptical about whether Trudeau will follow through with all of the promises he made.
For those who have followed YPP for years, a lot of the Liberal promises will sound familiar. Some around transparency in government—such as making all data and information open by default—seem to come right out of the YPP platform.
It remains to be seen however if the Liberals will actually implement the policies? Well now there is an easy way to see how they are doing.
The Trudeau Meter was started by a group of guys with the intent of allowing people across Canada to track how well the Liberals live up to their promises
The site was modeled after the Murasi Meter which was started in Egypt in 2012 after the people of Egypt elected their first democratically elected Prime Minister in recent times.
The site allows the public to sign up as “Promise Trackers” in order to provide updates on how the government is doing in fulfilling their promises. All of the promises are sourced so that you know when they were made. You can check back daily to see which ones the government has achieved, has broken, hasn’t started, or is in progress with fulfilling.
We at YPP think this is a much needed tool and would like to see it implemented at all levels of government to track promises made by every elected representative. YPP wants to see election promises be legally binding in the future. The first step in implementing this is to have a clear process for tracking the promises made and how well they are fulfilled.
Good job Trudeau Meter team! We look forward to checking in on your website regularly.
Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his new cabinet were sworn in. He deserves a lot of praise for bringing gender equality to cabinet and for how he provided greater access to the public to view the ceremonies.
These are great changes to see, but, with all of the talk about changing the way government is done, I was hoping for even more… There was an online petition going around encouraging Trudeau to appoint Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader, as Minister of Environment. We think this would have been a great idea!
Trudeau could have used the opportunity to extend an olive branch by offering a cabinet position to a Green, NDP and Conservative MP.
This type of behaviour is pretty unheard of in majority governments but is common place in coalition governments and would have shown that Trudeau was really willing to work together, even when he doesn’t have to
Of course there could be some the concern about whether MP’s from other parties could be trusted in the cabinet positions, but trust issues could always be overcome by ensuring they were put in portfolios with strong Deputy Ministers and loyal civil servants willing to report to the governing party and not just directly to their Minister.
It is time political parties started working together to do what is best for citizens and it is just the type of thing you could expect a YPP government to do!
BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has called on the BC Liberals to implement policies contained in the YPP platform, including one of our main planks about making all government contracts public by default. YPP has been advocating for this and other transparency initiatives for the past 12 years.
Despite this the BC Liberals continue to keep information away from the public. Currently the Clark government is taking flack in the media for a culture where nothing meaningful is written down and all e-mails are deleted.
Loopholes that exist within the FOI act allow this to happen and it is time that the secrecy is put to an end. You deserve to see exactly what the government is doing and why they are doing it. Currently the loopholes allow the government to exempt from requests any recommendations or advice they have been given about policy.
If instead the government took the approach that everything should be public by default, a lot of the government spending in this area would be saved. The freedom of information department could be refocussed on helping people sort through and understand the information that is already public instead of redacting and denying access to it.
YPP just got in the latest batch of YourBC gear!
We now have YourBC.ca fridge magnets, stickers, buttons and t-shirts.
Send us an e-mail if you want us to send you some! email@example.com
Very happy to see that Delta Firefighters are now trained at the same level as paramedics and will be providing this level of help when they arrive on the scene.
Bravo Delta! It is good to see a government looking for innovative approaches to providing better service to citizens. Consolidating first responders has the potential to save lives and money. If firefighters are to be the first ones on the scene, don’t we want them to have the best training available and be authorized to perform it in order to save lives?
It’s a shame to see the process has to be initiated as a response to the poor call out times from ambulances and not through a concentrated effort of all levels of government and stakeholders to work together to make first responders more efficiently and effectively.
It is also sad to see the pushback and political bickering over jurisdiction instead of looking at how this could work as an example for better service all across British Columbia.
Team YPP takes part in CODE 2015 Hackathon!
This past weekend the YPP team participated in the Canadian Open Data Experience. CODE 2015 is a nationwide hackathon organized by the Federal Government where teams are encouraged to develop apps over the course of 48 hours that utilize government’s open data.
YPP had a great team that was able to put together an app that utilized a few different data sets as well as users input to calculate a user’s Happy Score. We modeled it after the Gross National Happiness Indicator which is a tool used to help measure a nation’s success taking into account factors not normally included in more traditional indicators such as GDP.
Over 11,000 people participated in the event, and it was great to see so many people excited about open data and using it to make apps which can make people’s lives better. YPP has been an advocate of the open data movement since our formation in 2002.
The hackathon was also a great chance for us to do some hands on work with government data. Working with this data helped reinforce the need to make all government data public and accessible and to continually strive to improve the quality of the data available.
The event also showcased a lot of the potential that exists for this data in the future and the importance of events like this to help people utilize the data.
Check out Team YPP’s App at www.yourbc.ca/beehappy
Transparency in BC has been steadily decreasing, and over the past week there have been some great examples of that decline.
BC Government wants Kinder Morgan pipeline plans made public
Oil spill concerns are front and centre for a lot of British Columbians opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, yet Kinder Morgan continues to refuse to release details of their spill response plan.
The BC government has been trying to get the National Energy Board to compel Kinder Morgan to release this information but in January the NEB ruled that Kinder Morgan is not required to release this plan to the public.
Legislation exists in Washington State requiring Kinder Morgan to release their complete plan for the section of the pipeline which goes through the state, but due to lack of legislation in Canada, the disclosure in Canada is not required.
It is time that Canada started leading the world for our requirements around transparency, especially when it comes to controversial projects with potentially large scale environmental impacts. Although the NEB could have required that Kinder Morgan release this info to the public, or could have asked the Federal Government to create legislation requiring this info to be public, the head of the NEB simply said they hoped that industry will work with the public to be more transparent in the future. (link)
It is great to see the government fighting for this information to be released ahead of any decision on this project’s future, now if they were only as transparent as they want Kinder Morgan to be…
BC withholding report on health effects of LNG
Despite the BC government’s push to get the details of the Kinder Morgan proposal released ahead of the planned expansion, they seem perfectly content with not releasing a report on the health effects associated with natural gas fracking in North Eastern BC.
The report was commissioned by the government in 2012 and was supposed to be released in March 2014, but as of yet, has still not been released. Independent MLA, Vicki Huntington has been trying to get the report by filing freedom of information requests to obtain it, but the government has withheld the report. They are citing Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act, which allows the government to withhold information if the disclosure could be harmful to the financial or economic interests of a public body.
Whether there are health impact associated with fracking or not, withholding information, especially information which could harm the economic interests of a government body banking on natural gas extraction, doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the fracking process or trust in the government.
Thank you Vicki for continuing to fight to get this information made public.
BC budget is balanced, yet the debt still goes up
Last week the BC government released the 2015 budget. They are claiming victory in having balanced the budget for the third straight year, yet the debt continues to rise. With the release of this budget the debt is estimated to rise to $70 billion dollars within three years. This is up from just $45 billion when Christy Clark took over in 2011.
When the government steps up and proclaims that they have a balanced budget, they are misleading the public. Vaughn Palmer, from the Vancouver Sun, put out an article this week about how the government’s accounting works. The truth is, the public doesn’t care if there is an operating surplus and a capital deficit. British Columbians want to know whether the government is keeping their spending in check, or increasing the amount that will need to be paid back in the future and how the government is presenting this to the public, is not very transparent.
Christy Clark says government isn’t responsible for Translink
With the referendum ballots being mailed out in less than a month, Premier Christy Clark made a statement earlier this week trying to pass responsibility for Translink and the outcome of the referendum on to the mayors. “Translink belongs to the mayors and only the mayors,” She said.
It has been pointed out repeatedly since then that one of two things is going on. Either she doesn’t understand that provincial legislation created Translink, the Transportation Minister oversees it and only the provincial government can step in and change the accountability at Translink, or she is deliberately misleading the public by trying to distance herself and her government from the issues Translink is facing.
As long as no one is holding Translink accountable, they never will be accountable. For more on how Translink could be made more accountable, check out our previous post.
Written by James Filippelli, Leader of Your Political Party of BC. Views expressed are those of the author and don’t necessarily represent the views of the entire party. YPP encourages members to form their own opinions about all issues outside of YPP’s core principles of True Transparency, and the Triple Sustainability Principle.
8 Things Translink could do to convince the public they deserve more money:
Translink announced yesterday that they were replacing their CEO, Ian Jarvis, in order to try to restore public confidence ahead of the upcoming regional referendum asking for a 0.5% increase to the PST across the Lower Mainland. It seems the board actually realizes the public doesn’t think they deserve any more money to mismanage, but they clearly don’t know how to change that perception. Criticisms have already been raised about the CEO change as it appears to be only a superficial gesture.
Not only will Ian Jarvis stay on with Translink in an advisory role until June 2016, but he will also continue to receive his full CEO’s salary of over $420,000. Translink will then go on to pay the Interm CEO Doug Allen, $210,000 over the next six months until a new CEO is appointed.
If Translink and the YES side really wants to restore public confidence and convince the public to vote to give up more hard earned money for additional transportation expenditures, here are some simple things they could do to prove it.
#1) Fire Ian Jarvis:
Transfering their CEO to an advisory role and continuing to pay him his salary is proof Translink doesn’t understand the public’s concern with mismanagement and overblown salaries. Ian Jarvis has been CEO of Translink since 2009 and has overseen the failed compass card, the system wide skytrain shutdowns and a downturn in projected ridership. It is time for him to go, don’t keep him around.
#2) End car allowances for the Executive Board:
Incoming CEO Doug Allen has said he is going to ride public transit to work. Great! Now make all of the board members take transit. End the car allowance for the executive board. Last year this totalled up to almost $100,000 – not a large savings – but it would be a good will gesture.
If you expect other people to use the system, prove you are willing to use it too. Let’s not forget that the Executive Board meets right at Sapperton Skytrain Station. And if there are members who aren’t willing to take transit, let them pay for their travel themselves.
#3) Cut Executive Pay:
Translink is telling the public that times are tough and that the public needs to sacrifice some of their hard earned paychecks in order to get a better transportation system. Prove that you are ready to make the first sacrifice. Cut executive salaries to reasonable levels. Pledge to do this for a few years, or until the promised improvements come, the tax is no longer needed, or at least until the compass card is implemented.
What is a reasonable salary level? Hard to say, but according to the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, in 2012, Ian Jarvis as CEO of Translink made $200,000 more than the Premier, $75,000 more than Prime Minister Harper, around $100,000 more than the heads of the Toronto Transit Commission and Montreal Transit, and $200,000 more than the head of Seattle’s transit system.
#4) Make All Translink Board Meetings Public:
If you want to prove you are ready for the public’s trust, start making all transit board meetings public. Translink has been criticized in the past for having meetings behind closed doors, including the meeting to appoint new board members. Stop doing this. Make every meeting open to the public, or at the very least post a video of the meeting online for the public to see what the board is discussing. Let’s not forget the board is responsible for spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars each year.
#5) Make Translink’s Budget Completely Public:
As mentioned, Translink is responsible for spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars each year. Show the public exactly where this information is being spent. Yes, Translink does meet the minimum standards for reporting on expenditures, but there is an opportunity to help restore the public’s trust by not just doing the minimum. Start telling the public what the $111,000 contract with UBC was for, or the $1 million dollar contract with West Pacific Consulting Group was for, and do it by default, without waiting for people to ask. Post all of the contracts online by default for the public to see.
#6) Make the list of projects clearer:
The Mayors of the local municipalities have come up with a great wishlist of projects. Included is the Broadway subway, light rail from Surrey to Langley, a new Pattullo Bridge and more money for busses, Handy Dart and West Coast Express. Some of these projects sound good and others sound a little more questionable. If you really want to convince us we will get these things by paying a little more, tell us when we can expect these projects to be completed. What is the anticipated completion date of each project and for each project tell us how much additional tax revenue will be required from each additional level of government.
#7) Tell us when the tax will end:
No one wants to agree to a tax that goes on forever. Tell the public how long the tax will need to be around in order to make the improvements to the system. Two years, five years, ten years, indefinitely? Also reassure the public that there will be no attempt to raise the tax rate during that time. One way to ensure this happens is for the Provincial Government to pass legislation requiring the tax be repealed on a certain date and keeping it at the currently proposed level until then.
#8) Start designing the system to encourage ridership:
Translink says we need to get people out of their cars and on public transit in order to combat traffic congestion and keep goods moving throughout the region. Apparently it costs more to keep a car driver on the road than a transit user since transit users take up less space on the road. I agree with this rational. If you take transit, there is more room on the road for me to drive. Well, Translink, if getting people to start taking transit is the goal, start acting like it.
The Transit system is not designed to encourage people that have the option of driving on a day to day basis, to take transit. Yes, within Vancouver transit is pretty good, but going from the suburbs into the city on transit is not a very tempting option for most people. Commute times can double for a lot of trips on transit when transfers are involved. With today’s fuel efficient cars, the cost of driving into the city is less than taking transit both ways and there are few park and rides which would allow drivers to drive to a Skytrain instead of having to bus as well. Let’s also not forget there are no washrooms on the Transit system.
All of these are things that the average daily driver considers when they decide whether to take Transit or drive. It seem like Translink only wants people to use it that are willing to give up their car completely. If you aren’t ready to commit to Translink 100% and still want to keep your car around for weekend trips and getting groceries, you might as well just drive all the time.
If Translink is serious about trying to earn the public’s trust and trying to convince the public to vote YES to giving them more money, they should stop trying to talk the talk and start taking some real action.
Written by James Filippelli, Leader of Your Political Party of BC. Views expressed are those of the author and don’t necessarily represent the views of the entire party. YPP encourages members to form their own opinions about all issues outside of YPP’s core principles of True Transparency, and The Triple Sustainability principle.
Some things you might not have heard about the 2014 Municipal Election results from around BC:
Gregor Roberstson of Vision Vancouver was re-elected and will become the longest serving mayor of Vancouver if he serves out the new full 4 year municipal term.
Despite being re-elected, he won’t be able to put Vision policies through as easily for him as it has been over the past 3 years.
With Robertson and only 6 Vision Councillors elected, VV has 7 votes and they need 8 votes in order to pass budgets and other major measures. To pass these measures he will need a vote from Adriane Carr, or one of the three NPA councillors.
The NPA now dominates the Park Board. This will likely result in the overturn of the ban on captive breeding of Cetaceans at Vancouver Aquarium.
The Vancouver School Board is split with four Vision and 4 NPA members. Janet Fraser of the Green Party holds the balance of power here. This will give her a lot of input into what passes at the School Board.
All 3 questions on the back of the ballot about the city borrowing money to finance spending for Parks and Recs, Public Safety and Public Works, and Community Facilities passed easily.
Did you know there are 13 different municipalities in the Greater Victoria Area? There were referendum questions about amalgamating these cities on the ballot in 8 of these municipalities and 7 of them passed.
With more than half of the municipalities in Greater Victoria wanting to look at amalgamation, there is a big potential to save money by reducing duplication of services, mayors, and councillors and create a more unified vision for the area which could help with the development of much needed transportation infrastructure in the area.
Once again we learn that polls can’t be trusted. Going into Election Day we were told that this was a tight three way race, but it turns out that Linda Hepner of Surrey First, won with almost twice as many votes as the next competitor. Hepner took over the Surrey First Party when Dianne Watts, a very popular mayor, decided not to run again. With a Surrey First Mayor and Council, we can expect a continuation of the policies which occurred under Mayor Watts.
Hepner has said that one of her main priorities will be getting a light rail network in Surrey, which is much needed transportation infrastructure in the area.
What do you think about the election results? Any interesting results in your area? Let us know…